Tokyo can only really be understood, or at least felt, on the ground and intimately.

For even beginning to get a grasp on this megalopolis, though, it helps to get a view from afar – and the prime spot for that is the Tokyo Skytree.

With 634 m total height, it is the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest structure. Burj Khalifa is the tallest; the Shanghai Tower I visited this summer is the third-tallest structure (but has the highest observation deck).

Observatories in the Tokyo Skytree lie at 350 m (the Tembo Deck, tickets sold on the 4th floor) and 450 m (the Tembo Galleria, ticket sold at a counter on the Tembo Deck).

The 350 m was quite enough for me, clear-but-not-quite as the day was, and as a big part of my time in Japan was still coming up (so that I wanted to spend as little as possible on things I didn’t consider an absolute must-do).

I happened to get there before they even opened for the day, jetlag having made me wake up 4:30 am-ish and decide to just wander through the city already, into the very early morning.

So, I had already wandered down a road to the nearest metro station with the most sensible line to take. (Tokyo has quite a few different metro/rail lines, and connections from one or the other can go very differently, much more or less useful for the place you want to go.)

On the way there, I meandered left and right into side roads, to temples and shrines that Google Maps pointed out in those places, following my interest in the same.

Kanefukuinari Shrine

Kanefukuinari Shrine

At the Skytree, I thus had to wait for them to open, but didn’t have to wait to buy my ticket.

By the time I got down and out again, some school classes were waiting and the airport check-in-like waiting area was considerably fuller. (Word to the wise, therefore: Come early enough, get ready to wait, reserve a ticket in advance, or head for the express counter for foreign tourists that is available there.)

The view, as I mentioned, was not bad if not ideal, either – but definitely a good introduction to the megacity that is Tokyo.

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Fuji-san even made an appearance.

He would feature more often, though I did not make it to and onto the mountain this time around. (I had wanted to, would have even had the right weather for it, but that had all become a bit too uncertain and my outdoors sleeping gear would, by then, have become rather too wet and smelly and the backpack too heavy.)

Still, it was a nice introduction – and far from the only thing I did, even just on that day.